A task force led by the Los Angeles County Office of Education on Wednesday released a schools reopening plan for the 2020-21 academic year during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the physical closure in March of all K-12 campuses in the region.
The group involves 25 district superintendents and leaders from across the county who worked alongside LACOE subject-matter experts to develop the framework. It is intended as a guide for the region’s districts, charter schools and other education agencies, which serve some two million students, in making local decisions about how best to reopen schools this fall in collaboration with their diverse stakeholders and communities.
“I am grateful to the extraordinary team of education leaders who volunteered their expertise. In a short time, we have a developed a comprehensive planning tool covering all aspects of school operations,” said LACOE Superintendent Debra Duardo, head of the nation’s largest regional education agency.
While plans to reopen schools will look different across the 80 districts, Duardo said the top priorities for all must be the health and safety of students and staff guided by public health directives.
The framework focuses on five areas for districts to consider when planning for the 2020-21 school year: high-quality instruction, health and safety, social-emotional support systems, family and community engagement and operations such as budget and facilities. Detailed considerations for each area, a decision tree, recommendations, templates and resources are offered.
Instructional options explored include traditional classroom, distance-learning or a combination with social distancing measures in place. Districts are urged to strive for transparency and engage stakeholders throughout the planning process.
“While the crisis has shown that our school communities are flexible and innovative, it also has created and exacerbated educational inequities that must be addressed,” Duardo said. “We know schools will need additional resources to become better equipped and skilled at remote learning, address learning loss, implement vital health and safety protocols and support mental health and wellness.”
She added, “We are operating under the cloud of massive budget cuts and uncertainty about the pandemic. Schools are going to face extraordinary challenges in ensuring the safe physical reopening of campuses. Nonetheless, we must have plans in place while advocating for adequate funding for public education that is critical to California’s future.”
View the webpage Los Angeles County Schools: Rising to the Challenge of COVID-19—A Planning Framework for the 2021 School Year.
Download an overview/summary of the framework here.